Kensset amends law to clear the way for Likud-Labour coalition
JERUSALEM: A bill that would allow Labour leader Shimon Peres to become deputy premier, clearing the way for a coalition with the governing Likud party, passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament on Monday.
The amendment was adopted by a majority of 56 votes to 34 in the 120-member parliament.
The amendment now goes to the law commission before facing three parliamentary readings, the final obstacle to the entry of Labour into a new coalition government.
Coalition talks between Labour and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Likud have hitched on a final snag involving Peres, slated to become a second deputy prime minister.
Labour wants Peres to be authorised to fill in as acting premier when Sharon is away or incapacitated, but Israeli law only allows for one such post, currently held by Likud’s Ehud Olmert.
A deal is expected to be signed as soon as the legal changes are made.
Sharon vowed on Monday that the threat of a civil disobedience campaign would not derail his plan to withdraw all Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip by the end of 2005. “The disengagement will be carried out according to the timetable that has been determined by the government and approved by the Knesset (parliament),” Sharon told journalists after a meeting with President Moshe Katsav.
Prominent settler leader Pinhas Wallerstein called Sunday for those affected by the pullout to break through army roadblocks and barricade themselves in their homes, even if it means going to jail. The influential Yesha settlers’ council expressed Monday its “solidarity” with Wallerstein’s call for civil disobedience.
Wallerstein’s appeal came in the form of a letter sent round the settlements calling for active opposition to the withdrawal process.
“The public should violate the transfer law en masse and be ready to pay the price of mass imprisonment,” the letter said. afp